Merger offers more flexible education to college students
‘I would like to thank senior leaders, and all of the colleges’ staff for their hard work to make this a reality’
East Kent College has completed its long discussed merger with Canterbury College – just 18 months after riding to its rescue.
East Kent College, in Broadstairs, was called in to dig the New Dover Road campus out of a financial quagmire after it built up loans it could no longer service.
It was left further financially crippled after deciding to use cash reserves to pay for a new £9 million sports centre, business hub and art studios on the site.
Having already taken over the South Kent College sites in Folkestone and Dover, principal of the expanding East Kent College, Graham Razey, was parachuted in to turns the Canterbury campus’s fortunes around.
Faced with having to save millions of pounds to prevent complete collapse, a major restructuring was rolled out which stopped the rot and transformed its fortunes.
In a report published last year by the government’s further education commission, which was damning of Canterbury College’s previous leadership team, it was noted that under Mr Razey the atmosphere had been transformed into one of “openness and transparency”.
Having previously been rated as ‘requires improvement’ by inspectors Ofsted, a visit last year elevated it to ‘good’.
Talks began a little over a year ago to formalise the relationship and bring Canterbury College under East Kent College’s wing. That was finally agreed last Thursday, February 1.
The move creates the seventh biggest further education college group in the UK, catering for 15,000 students and employing more than 15,000 staff.
Although the colleges will keep their separate identities, they now form the EKC Group and bring together a family of five campuses across east Kent providing further education in Canterbury, Dover, Shepway, Swale and Thanet.
Group principal and chief executive Graham Razey said: “It’s great news for the many students we teach who now have unparalleled flexibility to progress through our range of provision, as well as the communities we serve, which I hope will benefit from the skills training and services we deliver.”
The group’s new chair, former CEO of Manston Airport Charles Buchanan, said: “I would like to thank senior leaders, and all of the colleges’ staff for their hard work to make this a reality.
“There’s no doubt it has not been easy, but it illustrates the fortitude and character of those working through our colleges that we have now become the EKC Group, and it makes me incredibly excited for the future of technical education in the south east.”
The group has also launched its new strategic plan which sets out its objectives for the future, as well as a new group logo.
Canterbury College has now formally merged with the Broadstairs-based East Kent College